Whether your goal may be to achieve your ultimate personal physique, or the optimal enjoyment of your daily experience in your body, strength training can be seen as an integral part of your total wellbeing. You may find yourself saying “But I’ll get bulky!” Or “How will I get enough protein?”, and you wouldn’t be alone in your concerns. However, it is without a doubt possible to reap every benefit of weight, resistance or strength training, whilst following a plant-based diet and still not feeling like the ultimate buff!
Advantages of Weight Training
- Lowering abdominal fat is a reward reaped from the stimulation to your metabolism. In a study published in the Obesity research journal, Harvard researchers showed that strength training was more effective at preventing an increase in one’s abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise was!
- Improving your cardiovascular health, a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Visceral fat (also called abdominal fat) is stored in and around the vital organs, and can affect the release of certain proteins and hormones responsible for causing inflammation. Training with weights allows for a better functioning HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), or good cholesterol, whilst simultaneously improving one’s blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels, similarly to cardio exercises.
- Supporting bone and joint health may be a particularly important benefit to note – especially for women. Women are more prone to developing osteoporosis. This risk can be lowered with strength training, owing to its abilities in protecting bone density. This, and of course, following a nutrient rich diet.
- Strengthening your mental health and reducing feelings of depression and anxiety can lead to huge changes for certain individuals. Endorphins released whilst exercising is always a true gift, but strength training also provides obstacles and opportunities to overcome them, creating mental resilience and self-satisfaction.
Here’s how you can start!
Setting goals and being able to visualise what you’re trying to achieve is an essential step in managing your progress. This is especially important when it comes to adjusting your training or nutrition. If you’re in no way set on looking like the incredible hulk, deciding and understanding what’s best for your body and what you’re aiming at achieving is important! If you are uncertain which foods are best for your unique body or how to overcome your challenges, then book a private coaching session and let’s develop a customized protocol for you.
Light weight, high reps!
If you’re only just beginning, its best to keep it simple at the start and focus on volume. For those who are entirely new to weights, using your own body weight is a brilliant way to ensure that your form and movements are at a perfect foundation to begin adding additional weight. For example, to train your legs, choose five exercises such as hip thrusts, leg extensions, lunges, squats and perhaps a plank to bring in some core. For each of these exercises, start with four sets of 12-15 repetitions, with two minutes of rest in-between. You can work sustainably to increase your reps depending on what you’re wanting to gain from your workouts. For more information on why training the core is important, check out my information hub.
Weight training is the spark that causes the fire, allowing your body to build lean muscle and burn away fat. Known by some as the ‘afterburn effect’ and others as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), weight training causes you to burn more calories even after you’ve finished your workout! Talk about an added bonus!
Heavier Weights are what Create Bulk!
Lifting heavier weights activates Type 2 or “fast twitch” muscle fibres, which are crucial in developing muscle growth and cell size. When you’re working with a lighter weight at a higher number of reps, there isn’t enough weight to condition a response from the fast twitch fibres – this is where there’s potential for big growth. Instead, “slow twitch” muscle fibres, which have less power, are activated. These muscles are endurance based. Longer, high-intensity workouts assist in building muscular endurance, toning the appearance by melting fat and burning calories, even with the after-burn!
Your diet is quite important, because when beginning any form of strength training, you’re going to need a bit more energy, and from the right sources. It’s simple, and comes down to eating a diet rich in variety and whole foods, such as beans, whole grains, lentils, legumes, oats, greens, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats!
Consider replacing your eggs on toast with a delicious bowl of almond milk, nut butter, oat milk and seeds. Or you could opt for a fruity, protein packed smoothie. For dinner and lunch, I always recommend a luscious vegetable dinner with lots of greens and sweet potato. The trick is eating enough of these foods to power your metabolism, which will help you to create lean muscle and support your physical goals!
Research and Reward!
The controversy and misinformation on weight training and dietary requirements for muscle building is extensive. However, with more research being done, the science behind strength training is now coming from a more inclusive angle. The benefits of weight training, when combined with a healthy plant-based diet, are showing to be innumerable and nothing less than incredible! There’s a plethora of helpful information from vegan women and men all around the world reaping the body and mind benefits of weight training.
There’s no seeing around the fact that society still holds the perception that a plant-based diet and building muscle do not work very well together. This is an old paradigm rooted in fear. In truth, this is the furthest thing from reality and you are absolutely encouraged to consider incorporating weight training into your workouts, without the fears dragging you down! For further assistance, join my group coaching classes and allow me to take you on a journey of transformation.